Lopez excels in forensic science scene

Chemistry teacher Carrie Lopez analyzes student handwriting


Kenny Hill

Science teacher Carrie Lopez said that everything in a person's handwriting from the width of their I's to the height of their T's indicates something about their personality

Sidney Seybold, Staff Writer

   On January 15, 1974, in Wichita, Kansas, four people were violently murdered in their home, two of them children. This was the beginning of a 17-year murder spree, which left 10 Wichita natives dead. The killer, Dennis Rader, also known as the “BTK killer” would bind and torture his victims before killing them. Rader would never have been discovered had the police not used handwriting analysis to link him to letters written and signed by “BTK killer.” The skill of handwriting analysis is not only used by forensic scientists to solve crimes: science teacher Carrie Lopez also possesses the ability to analyze handwriting.

   “I took a survey course in my undergraduate studies at UCF, and a lot of my friends were actually forensic science majors, and I just thought it was really interesting,” Lopez said. “Plus obviously all of the crime shows [are fascinating].”

   In 2014, Lopez earned a Master’s Degree in Forensic Science from the University of Florida. She teaches a forensic science class at Trinity, as well as through the Malone Schools Online Network. One of the topics they explore is handwriting analysis—what it’s used for and what to look for when analyzing someone’s handwriting.

   “Your handwriting actually comes from your brain, not from your hand,” Lopez said.

   Questioned document examiners use handwriting analysis to solve cases like forgery and alterations. For example, a painter could be right-handed, but a forged painting in their name could have been signed by someone who is left-handed. Because specialists can determine handedness, by analyzing their handwriting, examiners would then know that the painting was fake. They can also discover other information about people from their handwriting.

   “They can determine things about your personality, and they can determine if you were under duress or stressed when you [were writing],” Lopez said.

   There are different writing styles and techniques that Lopez looks for when analyzing a person’s handwriting to gain more insight about their personality or mood.

   “You’re looking for trends in their writing,” Lopez said. “Some people do their “I” dots really high, because that means they have a big imagination. Some people cross their t’s really high, which means they have really high goals for themselves, so all kinds of things like that are indications of what we can get from people.

   Lopez is able to gather information about people she doesn’t know solely based on their handwriting.

   “I do notice people’s handwriting on documents now, and I feel like I could know their personality,” Lopez said.

   For the purpose of this article, Lopez was asked to analyze sixth grader Zach Kleiman’s handwriting, whom she has never met. From the sample he provided, Lopez gathered a variety of information about his personality, some that he agreed with and some that he did not.

   Lopez stated that the slant of Kleiman’s writing indicates that he thinks before acting and is independent and emotionally stable. Kleiman agrees because his parents can leave him alone and can count on him to do his chores. He is also emotionally sound, as Lopez pointed out.

   “I don’t cry out a lot. I don’t really yell a lot. I’m chill,” Kleiman said.

   Another trait that Kleiman felt was accurate was that he is “highly intelligent” because he is in Expanded Pre-Algebra. Kleiman also considers himself to be patient, another quality highlighted by Lopez.

   “Anyone who doesn’t really understand something in general, I can explain it to them,” Kleiman said.

   While most of the analysis is accurate, Kleiman said he disagrees with Lopez’s statement that he is closer with his mom and that his dad is non-existent. On the contrary, he has a strong relationship with his dad.

   Although handwriting analysis isn’t 100 percent accurate, it can be very useful in forensic science but also in the lives of regular people. Lopez was able to analyze Zach Kleiman’s handwriting, and the results were mostly correct.

   “I think it’s really cool how she can get all this information,” Kleiman said. “I’d say [it was] pretty accurate, [but] not completely accurate, but I’m pretty impressed how she knows all that.”